“The usual saying in football is to ‘take one game at a time’, said Blyth Spartans manager Tommy Cassidy after his team won its third game in a row on Saturday. Looking forward to matches at Droylsden, Solihull and at home to Gloucester he continued: “I’m tempted to say we’ll now ‘take three games at a time’ after I said last week that we needed those three back to back victories! But, no, we will ignore the league table and just try and keep winning the games as they come along”.
The 1-0 victory over Eastwood Town was no showcase match and Blyth’s performance did not match those of late but Cassidy was not too concerned.
“Expectations were high after winning our previous two matches and this game looked to be the easiest of the three but it didn’t work out like that,” he said. “It wasn’t a good game but it’s not now about how we win but just getting the points. It was an ugly game and an ugly win. We got brought down to their level a little but we were the better team. I believe that if we’d got a second goal we’d have gone on to get three or four”.
A rather physical Eastwood team signalled their belligerent intent as early as the first minute when visiting captain Mitch Hansen fouled Blyth’s Neal Hooks who was unable to continue. The visitors went on to collect four yellow cards. Cassidy was displeased: “If the foul on Hooks had been in, say, the 68th minute the lad would have been off! I was very annoyed with the bad tackles which meant play was halted every five minutes. It was disruptive and kept on knocking us out of our stride”.
A goal from Shaun Utterson put Blyth ahead in the sixth minute. The Spartans dominated the game in the first half although they went a bit flat towards half time. Robbie Dale, back at Blyth on loan from Whitley Bay, provided flashes of skill but missed two opportunities to score just before half time.
Blyth were unable to add to their tally despite some good wing play an in fact Eastwood worried the home defence in the last ten minutes but the Spartans defence held firm.
“We didn’t create enough chances in the second half,” thought Cassidy. “Yes towards the end they were pumping balls into our penalty area and there was the worry that they’d nick one. Fortunately it didn’t happen though”.
The Blyth boss remains optimistic of staging a remarkable relegation escape.
“I’ve told the players that we can beat most teams in the league. But we need to do things right for longer and more often. I want the home crowd behind us and buzzing for our next home game [Gloucester City on 24th March]. We want to stay up and I want the supporters to stay behind the players whatever and the players will in turn put on a show for them”.
Cassidy hopes to have Sam Hodgson back for Tuesday’s game at Droylsden after the midfielder missed Saturday’s game after becoming unwell on Friday. There are, however, doubts over Neal Hooks, Phil Bannister and Graeme Armstrong.
Other niggling injuries in the squad meant the Blyth players spent some time in a jacuzzi last week. If the current winning streak continues there may be bubbles of the celebratory kind come the end of the season.